Running an Art Business

Running an Art Business – A How to Guide
Contributed by Neleisha Weerasinghe

Being a professional artist simply does not mean you play with paint and clay. If you think about it you become the owner of a small business! That is something to be proud of????

High fives aside, successfully running an art business is not all play, it comes with some serious business planning. So, where do you start? by developing a business plan! And here are some steps to get you thinking and planning.

  1. Think like a businessman/woman

This goes without saying you have to get out of the hobby mindset and think like a business owner. So, start by writing down you Mission and Vision Statements. A Mission Statement defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach those objectives. A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company.

With the mission statement you must really think as to why you want to be a professional artist. Is it to make extra money? Is it to share a message? Answers to these questions will drive your business.

The vision statement will indicate the direction you want your art business to take in the future.

  1. Set targets

It is always good to have targets. You might want to write down your long term and short-term goals. You can set up you goals visually or simply in text form. looking at them will help you determine what you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can – quitting a day job to do art full time or selling art are not specific career objectives.

  1. Who is your customer?

The next step is to determine who your ideal client is so that you can market your artwork as effectively as possible. You could do this by asking yourself some basic questions such as:

  • Who can afford your pieces?
  • What age group are they in?
  • Why do they buy art?
  • Where do they buy from?
  • Where do these buyers live?
  • Do they socialize a lot and if so where?
  • What are their interests?

It is also good to determine their most liked mode of communication, is it social, email, text message or Whatsapp, newsletter.

  1. The Competition

This is an important area to look at too because you cannot run a serious business without thinking of your competition. So, spend some time researching other artists who are similar to you. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses can assist you in developing a plan for your own art business and gaining a competitive advantage.

  1. Budget

Running a business means you will have expenses so you need to have some form of managing it. Some use excel sheets while others use apps or web applications or even hire a professional but to start off with it is a good thing to write down what your costs will be and separate them from your personal expenses. Write down the costs of everything you can think of, from supplies to studio space, in this section of the art business plan. This way of thinking will help you determine how you will fund your business. It will also help you to determine how much to charge for each piece of work you put out.

  1. Marketing

At this stage you need to determine how you would market or sell your work. Will you look for gallery representation or use paid galleries, go for art fairs, use online selling options or all. Remember the place you chose to sell your work must correspond with where your customers are.

This is just a basic list to help you get started, we hope these suggestions will assist you in getting your art business up and running!